Solar Frontier Powers Sake Brewery

CIS modules supply electricity to former school-turned-sake brewery on Sado Island in Niigata, Japan

Tokyo, November 17, 2014 – Solar Frontier announced today that it has completed the installation of its CIS solar modules at a Japanese sake brewery on Sado Island, Japan. Using a building that until four years ago housed an elementary school, the CIS thin-film modules will be used to make Obata Brewery's new brew called "Gakko Gura" ("School Cellar").


The solar initiative is part of Obata Brewery's "Gakko Gura Project", with Obata Brewery leasing the former school building from Sado City in an effort to give it a second life. Sado City and IR3S (The University of Tokyo Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science) have partnered for the first time with Solar Frontier and Obata Brewery to successfully complete this project. The 10 kW system is installed in the emptied swimming pool of the former school and will provide 20% of the energy needed to power the brewery. "Gakko Gura" went on sale on November 3 and is already picking up a strong reputation for its deep cask-infused flavour.

Obata Brewery President, Takeshi Hirashima, commented, "Four years ago Nishimikawa Elementary School shut its doors after 136 years but has now been reborn as a "School Cellar". We hope the building will now become a focal place for islanders and visitors to gather. "Gakko Gura" is brewed with the help of a natural power source – the sun – which works in harmony with the pure rice and island spring water we use to produce a special sake that symbolizes the natural riches on Sado Island. Made in a former educational establishment, we believe this sake embodies the sunny and pure character of the local people. We are extremely proud to be able to tap into Sado Island's full breadth of nature and beauty to brew "Gakko Gura" sake."

Atsuhiko Hirano, CEO of Solar Frontier, commented, "This project is the embodiment of our mission to help achieve local production for local consumption. Obata Brewery's vision to give a second life to a closed school and turn it into a brand that can be sent out into the world is admirable. This is a model initiative for local governments everywhere to build a low carbon society. We at Solar Frontier are proud that our CIS thin-film modules have been used for such an iconic model initiative."

Obata Brewery's "Gakko Gura Project" is a joint initiative that includes Sado City, IR3S and Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. (Solar Frontier's parent company). Solar Frontier's CIS thin-film modules were selected for the "Gakko Gura" initiative because of their excellent power output in real world conditions. Sado Island has a relatively low amount of sunlight, and especially under these conditions, Solar Frontier's CIS thin-film modules can provide a higher energy output than its competitors. Solar Frontier modules are already proven to produce excellent output in the Niigata region at the Yukigunigata Megasolar installation. The black design of the panels and their aesthetic compatibility with the historical wooden building of the school was also a significant factor in their choice.

Solar Frontier will continue to focus on collaborations with industry, academia and government, promoting distributed energy generation model initiatives rooted in local regions, utilizing Solar Frontier CIS thin-film modules.

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